Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Lara Logan Episode: How Identity Politics Influence Media Coverage at Cairo's Tahrir Square and Elsewhere

In a column republished at Jewish World Review, Caroline Glick raises some interesting questions:

Why have Western media outlets provided so little coverage about the widespread attacks on foreign journalists in and around Cairo's Tahrir Square?

In the case of the beating and sexual assault suffered by CBS correspondent Lara Logan, why was so little attention given to the perpetrators of the attack? Why has there been so little comment on the misogyny of Egyptian society. (Here Ms. Glick valuably contrasts the absence of the misogyny angle from the Lara Logan story with the media attention given a lawsuit filed by former U.S. servicewomen right around the time of the Lara Logan incident against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, claiming that both men and the U.S. Defense establishment are responsible for the sexual assaults the female soldiers suffered during their military service.)

Radical leftist journalist Nir Rosen has been roundly attacked by reporters and commentators after he wrote defamatory attacks on Lara Logan on Twitter. In the past, Rosen has called for the destruction of Israel, chapioned Hezbollah, Hamas and the Taliban (with whom he was an embedded reporter) and cheered on the enemies of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. For his previous efforts, Rosen earned praise, awards and fellowships from the journalistic community. Why were only his attacks on Ms. Logan viewed as crossing a line of journalistic propriety?

Ms. Glick convincingly argues that the answer to all of these questions, and indeed the leitmotif that determines coverage of events by Western media, is the role of identity politics in current journalism, specifically the hierarchy of victimology. She notes:
Identity politics revolve around the narrative of victimization. For adherents to identity politics, the victim is not a person, but a member of a privileged victim group. That is, the status of victimhood is not determined by facts, but by membership in an identity group. Stories about victims are not dictated by facts. Victim stories are tailored to fit the victim. Facts, values, and individual responsibility are all irrelevant.

In light of this, a person's membership in specific victim groups is far more important than his behavior. And there is a clear pecking order of victimhood in identity politics. Anti-American Third World national, religious and ethnic groups are at the top of the victim food chain. They out-victim everyone else.

After them come the Western victims: Racial minorities, women, homosexuals, children and animals.

Israelis, Jews, Americans, white males and rich people are the predetermined perpetrators. No matter how badly they are victimized, brave reporters will go to heroic lengths to ignore, underplay or explain away their suffering.

In cases when victim groups are attacked by victim groups — for instance when Iraqis were attacked by Saddam or Palestinians are attacked by the PA, the media tend to ignore the story.

When members of Western victim groups are attacked by Third World victims, the story can be reported, but with as little mention of the identity of the victim-perpetrators as possible. So it was with coverage of Logan and the rest of the foreign reporters assaulted in Egypt. They were attacked by invisible attackers with no identities, no barbaric values, no moral responsibility, and no criminal culpability. CBS went so far as to blur the faces of the men who surrounded Logan in the moments before she was attacked.

Indeed, Ms. Glick notes, "The fact that Logan was brutalized for 20 to 30 minutes and that her attackers screamed out 'Jew, Jew, Jew,' as they ravaged her was absent from the CBS report and from most other follow-on reports in the US media."

According to Ms. Glick, Mr. Rosen's unforgiveable error, in the eyes of his peers, was his failure to recognize that by being sexually assaulted, Ms. Logan had moved into a category of protected victim, this being the case even though her assailants were themselves identified victims--third-world Islamic peoples--whose culpability has not been discussed and is not to be discussed in the limited press coverage of the attack on Ms. Logan.

Indeed one might say that the only person likely to be held culpable in the Western media for an attack on Ms. Logan is poor Mr. Rosen. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.


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